Serendipity in Music City

We packed up an acoustic guitar and mandolin, stuffing their canvas cases with t-shirts and beanies to cushion their journey. It’s always risky, flying with acoustic instruments – but keep them in a soft case and try as they might, those airline employees can’t quite force you to surrender your baby to the crude handling of the luggage team. (“What was your name? Just so I know who to call if you make me check this and it’s a pile of matchsticks when we arrive.”)

Oh, but that’s the worst-case scenario. The matchsticks reference doesn’t really come up that often. For the most part, people are just curious about what you’ve got strapped to your back. That is, until you fly to Nashville, where a gleaming, cherry-red 1960s Gibson 335 in a crystalline display case greets you by baggage claim. Merle Travis is piped in over the loudspeakers. Patsy Cline smiles down from a giant billboard; next to her, Johnny Cash’s scathing gaze looks right through you. Welcome to Music City.

After landing we headed straight to Exit/In, a club that since its opening in 1971 “has taken its place among the nation’s most venerable, historic music venues.” Everyone from Jimmy Buffett to Etta James, from the Black Crowes to Death Cab for Cutie, has played there. We caught a raucous set by sister duo Larkin Poe, whose powerful voices and soaring guitars filled the room. For an encore, they invited up and coming guitarist Tyler Bryant and incredible slide player Robert Randolph (who had been standing next to us at the bar, unbeknownst to me!) to join them onstage. They then proceeded to bring the house down.

Even though we were new to town, and even though we had followed the impressive careers of some of these musicians but had never actually met them or heard them live, the whole night felt like an easygoing party amongst friends. After their killer encore, Robert Randolph stepped offstage and raised a glass with the crowd, which was mixed: all ages, some in cowboy hats, some in combat boots; young bucks barely of drinking age rubbing shoulders with old bikers who looked like they were born with beer in hand. It all felt very open and honest and straightforward: come as you are and enjoy the music. We’re glad you’re here.

The next day we headed to ASCAP (Association of Songwriters, Composers, and Publishers), the performance rights organization (PRO) which represents both me and Berna as music authors and publishers. I had heard that in the old days, the best thing was to meet a rep from your PRO, play your three best songs, and get their feedback. Maybe they’d tell you to take a hike, and keep your day job; maybe they’d pair you up with another writer.

In trying to schedule such an appointment, I had repeatedly heard the line that ASCAP represents over 750,000 writers and publishers these days, and their reps don’t have the bandwidth to meet with just any writer in their constituency. Fair enough. We showed up anyway.

While we were waiting in the lobby, the elevator opened and a tall, slim gentleman dressed all in black, with bright blue eyes, smiled. We smiled back, shook hands. He introduced himself – Ralph Murphy – and said if we waited he could meet with us. A few minutes later he ushered us into his office. The glass walls and modern furniture contrasted with the piles of books and old school stereo receiver. A large Bugs Bunny stuffed toy sat in one of his desk chairs, holding a guitar; Mickey Mouse lounged in another corner.

Ralph, Bugs, and Mickey all looked at us and waited. A little frazzled (he is the VP of ASCAP Nashville, after all…), I explained what we were there for and asked if we could play some songs for him. He nodded (Bugs and Mickey were stone faced), and from one phone we played a selection of our tunes while he read lyrics off another phone. He tapped his foot and listened intently, and for each song he had both general comments about the rules of writing hits and specific comments on the music and the message of the song. In 20 minutes I got more substantial, concrete feedback on my writing than I had in 15 years of gigging. I came away with some clear marching orders, all outlined neatly in the fresh copy of Ralph’s book which he generously gifted me. But perhaps most importantly, we came away inspired anew to work, reach, and refine our craft.

Despite the downpour outside, our footsteps were light. We walked by RCA Studios A and B – no big deal, just humble little studios where the likes of Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys, and B.B. King have recorded (to name a few) – on our way back to the car. We spent the rest of the day in vintage guitar shops playing precious, beautiful, completely unaffordable museum pieces before heading to The Ryman Auditorium, the famed hall that originally hosted the Grand Ole Opry.

The band was Blackberry Smoke, whose sound blends the liquid, dual guitars of the Allman Brothers with the soulful edge of the Black Crowes. Pure southern rock with catchy guitar riffs and a tight rhythm section, punctuated by interjections from the guest pedal steel player. As has been happening to me a lot lately, this music at once brought me back & pitched me forward. The familiarity of the song forms, the harmonies, and even the bands’ flowing locks (a-la-Gregg and Duane) were comforting, and felt like home; but the songs’ insights and delivery were very much of the current moment.

My favorite song of their set was one I have come to call “Itty Bitty Town”(though the song is actually called “One Horse Town” and the lyrics talk about a “little bitty town”, not an itty bitty one… remember the “creative” song lyrics you’d come with as a kid, based on what you thought you were hearing on the radio?). Contrasting nostalgia and loyalty to family and home with ambitions of something bigger, “One Horse Town” illustrates a conflict that’s all too familiar to the artists and dreamers of small town America. And it’s just as true today as it would have been over a century ago (when leaving town actually did require you to saddle up your pony).

This was the kind of timeless story and detail that Ralph (and Bugs and Mickey) were pushing us towards – something specific yet relatable, unique yet universal

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. To see and hear such a stunning example of this kind of writing live, so soon after our meeting with him, seemed uncanny… or at the very least, serendipitous. But really, that’s just living in Nashville. The place is simply saturated with music – good music – and everywhere you turn, musicians are reaching back and looking forward, honing their craft, their ears and hearts open. It was all we could do to soak it in for the brief window we walked those streets, tucked into the curves of the swelling Cumberland River, whose singing currents blended with the twang of the honky tonks and drifted up, up, up over the valley, fading into the stars.

Folkin’ Christmas in NY

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On Sunday, December 9, Berna & I are psyched to be returning to New York City! We’ll play a cozy acoustic set at Rockwood Music Hall (stage 1) starting at 6pm. Nestled on the lower east side, Rockwood presents a variety of independent music 7 days a week on 3 different stages. The tunes are top notch, the staff is great, and the beer’s not bad either – so join us to kick off the holiday season in beautiful New York!

Cape Ann Song: A Ballad for my Salty Hometown

Ahoy!

It’s a new month, so it’s time for another new song – and this one hits (quite) close to home. Please enjoy my love song to Cape Ann, written while far from home…

Click to listen to Cape Ann Song!

Adventure at sunset 2016

As many of you know, in recent years I have spent a lot of time far from my home port. During one of the longer sojourns abroad, I made the mistake of re-reading the beautiful book Lone Voyager, by Gloucester author Joseph Garland. It tells the extraordinary story of Howard Blackburn, a dory fisherman out of Gloucester who, after losing his mother ship in a snow squall, ended up also losing his dory mate and both of his hands while rowing for his life through the storm. He eventually made it to shore, and slowly made his way back to Gloucester.

Incredibly enough, this was just the beginning of his illustrious career on the high seas: despite having lost his hands, Blackburn went on to sail solo across the Atlantic (multiple times); he sailed down the U.S. east coast, around the tip of South America, and back up the west coast to Alaska for an ill-fated stint in the gold rush (though that time he had a crew); and he also sailed solo up the Hudson River, across the Great Lakes, and as far down the Mississippi as he could – until his hull got stuck in the mud. An inspiring, salty soul, to say the least.

I say that reading Lone Voyager while traveling was a mistake because, well, it made me incredibly homesick. Images of that stunning, uniquely-New England light over the Atlantic peppered my dreams; I would wake up to imaginary gull cries, or fog horns echoing over invisible harbors. Beyond the rich maritime history of the place, its rich artistic history haunted me as well: the poems of T.S. Eliot drifted through my mind, and mingled with the dreamy Luminism of Fitz Henry Lane and Winslow Homer, or the stark realism of Edward Hopper. So many have passed through this port, and have been inspired to work, to dream, to create. This is more than an island, I thought.

And so, around that phrase, a song was born: my humble tribute to a place I am honored to call home. Nel mio piccolo (in my little way), I hope it does the place some semblance of justice.

As ever, I am so grateful to my fellow musicians and collaborators in realizing this song – and grateful to you for listening, for reading, for writing, for showing your support in so many ways. Thank you.

I will be headed home again in August (!), and will be booking/posting gigs around New England soon. I cannot wait to see & sing to you. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little taste of home, sent from afar

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Wistfully,
Marina

New release: “Afterglow”!

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The third single off Tide & Stars is here!

california sunset_afterglow

 

 

 

 

 

 

A song from the road, Afterglow paints a picture of our troubadour’s life together – both its beauty & uncertainty – and also gives the new album its name:

We’ll set our course by tide and stars
No map to draw or follow
With one voice and two guitars
We’ll sing our tomorrow

Hope this track kicks off your weekend (and your spring) right – and if the spirit moves you, please share!


New Single Out Now!


ocean still

 

 

 

 

Finalmente! I am so excited to share the debut single Middle of the Ocean off my forthcoming album Tide & Stars! Here’s a little sneak peek of the music video:

And here you can listen to / download the full track:

Telling a familiar story of two lovers separated by the sea (… guess who?), this song was fittingly recorded on both sides of the Atlantic – from Cape Ann, Massachusetts to Florence, Italy – and was produced by Bernardo Baglioni (who also features on guitar, bass, mandolin, and backup vocals… phew!)

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. The song’s lonely protagonist finds solace in the horizon, knowing her love is looking back at her from some distant shore. Middle of the Ocean pays homage to love’s indomitable spirit… so what better time to release it than Valentine’s Day?

Click here for lyrics, credits, etc. Love to all & grazie mille to everyone who contributed!

Homeward Bound: Stateside Summer Shows


Marina & Berna in VT 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again – when I fly across the Atlantic from Italy to Cape Ann, Massachusetts, only to hit the ground running (& singing!) for a summer tour across New England

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. And I couldn’t be more excited!

This summer, it’s quite the mix: solo acoustic shows, concerts in duo with my musical partner & killer slide guitarist Bernardo Baglioni, and performances fronting the incredible Compaq Big Band. Everything from house concerts (in living rooms, recording studios, and one on the stunning shores of Lake Winnipesaukee!) to museums, from the decks of one of Gloucester’s historic schooners to the hallowed halls of aged New England churches — there’s a concert for everyone. Click here to see the full calendar!

I’m also looking forward to a benefit concert for the Schooner Adventure, “the last of the Gloucestermen,” a historic ship that is a living testament to our rich maritime history (August 12). I’ll be performing in acoustic duo with Bernardo aboard the ship as she’s docked in her beautiful home port of Gloucester, MA. Come join us for a sunset concert beneath the spars!

More concerts are being added all the time, so stay tuned — click here to view the full concert calendar, or follow me on Facebook or Instagram for up-to-the-minute news. Many thanks all — looking forward to seeing you (and singing to you!) along the road!

 

Back in the Studio for New Album “Tide and Stars”!


donny drums_tide and stars 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big news, everybody: I’m back in the studio again working on a brand new original album entitled Tide and Stars! As with my two most recent records, Unbound and The Tuscan Sessions, I am working with Italian producer (and my husband & musical partner, incidentally) Bernardo Baglioni

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. Unlike our past two records — both recorded here in Italy, with our Italian band — this time we’ll be recording with a mix of Italian and American musicians, and we’ll be doing so on both sides of the pond.

We hit the studio this week in Florence, Italy with Florentine drummer Donald Renda (pictured above), who is also featured on both Unbound and The Tuscan Sessions. And as usual, he nailed it! Next up are the basses, followed by guitars, mandolins, and possibly dobro & banjo — and finally, we’ll wrap things up with the vocal tracks.

This record takes a decidedly more acoustic, folk/americana turn than my last two projects, and I’m looking forward to realizing these songs in a more pared-down context. The songs are direct, to the point, and hark back to traditional song forms & structures. It’s raw, it’s true, and it’s me — so it’s thrilling, and more than a little scary, to bring this music to life and to share it with the world. That said — I can’t wait! Stay tuned for more news & updates as the project moves forward. Onwards!

Press: Feature Article in The Florentine!


marina duomo rooftop edited

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am thrilled to be featured this month in The Florentine, Florence’s premier English language news publication! With distribution of over 10,000 copies in print and online, throughout Tuscany and across the pond in New York City, this magazine is read by expats and lovers of beautiful Florence the world over

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. It is quite an honor to be featured on these pages! Thank you, the Florentine and to writer & editor Mary Gray!

The article tells the story of my love affair with this stunning and historic city. The above photo was taken back in 2008, when I was studying in Firenze during my junior year in college. As I sat on that rooftop terrace, humming and picking out some of my very first songs, I never could have imagined that the rambling, musical path I had started on would lead me back here — but I am sure glad it did! The bicontinental life of a troubadour has blessed me with 3 EPs, a full album (and another one on the way), countless concerts across the continents, and last but certainly not least – the man I am proud to call my husband & musical partner, Bernardo Baglioni. Click here to read the full article & get all the details!

PDF: The Florentine – Marina Evans (June 2016)

Live in Italia!


 

marina berna livorno 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Italy! I’m excited to return to the continent and kick things off with a concert at Ex Cinema Aurora, an independent folk venue in Livorno, Italy. As its name indicates, this abandoned cinema has been recently converted to a funky concert space. Relics of old Hollywood, including enormous old cameras, stage lights, and film reels dot the walls. And the acoustics are incredible!

I’ll be joined by my husband, producer, and killer guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Bernardo Baglioni as we perform an intimate, all-original set

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. We are looking forward to debuting some brand new music — some of which I *just* finished on the plane on my way to Europe! — that will make its way onto my 2016 album, Tide & Stars. Free entry. Spero di vedervi, amici italiani – mi mancate, e non vedo l’ora di condividere qualche pezzo nuovo con voi!

 

Solo Show at the Union Coffee Company!


marina at shalin by sheila opening for judy

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Sheila Roberts Orlando

My last stateside show on the books for… many months! I am headed back to Europe in just a few short weeks, and so am looking forward to my last solo acoustic show at the Union Coffee Company up in Milford, NH. A small, intimate venue, the Union Coffee Co. hosts the New Hampshire Acoustic Songwriter Series, which features singer/songwriters from across New England and Canada. And I’m excited to kick off the 2016 concert series this Sunday, January 31! The show starts around 11am and will run until 12:30 or so. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online in advance (recommended!) — to do so, just click here

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. Hope to see some of you before I hop the pond!

What: New Hampshire Acoustic Songwriter Series Presents: Marina Evans
When: Sunday, January 31 at 11am
Where: The Union Coffee Company, 42 South Street, Milford, NH
Tickets: $10; click here to purchase